"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
February 23 - March 8, 2021
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff:
Dear friends,

During Lent this year, your staff are reading together the book Lent of Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery, by Cheri L. Mills.

This book is a story book, but not the kind we read as children. It tells the stories of slavery in America and examines the ongoing effects of generations of slavery on Black people today. It reveals the roots of systemic racism and tells of laws enacted by whites in power with the express intent of treating non-white human beings as less than human.

Each daily devotion opens with a quote from the book The Underground Railroad: A Record, by William Sill followed by a quote from scripture. Following Mills’ reflections on these combined quotes, the reader is left with some deep and difficult questions.
Today in our staff meeting, we shared and discussed the devotion for today, which ended with these questions:

1)    In protest movements for racial justice, there is a slogan that says, “White silence = white consent.” Have you been silent in the face of Black suffering, poverty, and despair?

           If you are white and have lived very long and if you are being honest and courageous, I daresay the answer to this question is “yes.” Saying yes to this question will not come without pain and soul-searching. But saying yes to this question is the first step toward healing the deep tear in the fabric of humanity left with us by the sin of slavery and continued by us through the racist systems, assumptions, and mindsets embedded in our culture. The unwritten follow-up question to this one is “How have you been silent?” These are difficult questions, and they are painful to answer, but part of moving forward is facing the answers head-on and actively moving toward solutions that challenge the narrative of white supremacy that has been handed down to us across generations. While her first question invites us to reflection, her second question invites us to action:

2)    What can you do to challenge this narrative, lift others, and bring hope?
As people of God, as followers of Christ, I invite you to join with our staff in asking and seeking answers to these questions in your own life and in our life together as First Presbyterian Church. I pray that such faithful explorations will lead us all to a deep and holy Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you all, my friends, as you open yourself up to truth and as you seek to be instruments of healing in our broken world.

With love,
The love and concern of the congregation are extended to:
  • Hendrika Vande Kemp on the recent death of her sister, Nellie Van Eywk;
  • the family and friends of John Kerr, FPC member who died peacefully at his apartment home at Durham Regent on February 18. He was 95 years old. 

We also mourn the loss of Dr. James Michael “Mickey” Efird. Dr. Efird was Professor Emeritus of Duke Divinity School and an ordained Presbyterian (USA) minister. He presented “Efird Lectures” (free to the community) at FPC during Lent for many years. He died on February 17.

Birth Announcement: 
Congratulations to Emily Durham Diy and Carlo Diy on the birth of their second child. Owen Boyd Durham Diy was born February 22, 2021. He joins big sister Anna Ruth. The family thanks you so much for your prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes during this pandemic pregnancy. They are so grateful and can’t wait to introduce you to Owen!

  • Daniel Rambo, uncle of Will McDow, recovering from COVID;
  • Pat Turner, grandmother of Matthew Eggleston, and Jill Turner, his aunt, are both battling COVID. Matthew's parents, Drake and Emily Eggleston, have almost recovered from COVID: they're no longer contagious but still haven't regained their full strength.  
  • Grace Abels, home following surgery last week

 Recovering at their homes
  • Catherine Dumas, recovering from hip replacement surgery
  • Kerry Holbrook
  • Robin Morey
  • Kathy Parkins, recovering from shoulder and bicep surgery
  • Margaret Sims, undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Alfred Tisdale
  • Carol Wills
Care Communities:
  • Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell 
  • Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin
  • Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
  • Durham Ridge Assisted Living: Phillip Herndon
  • Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
  • Hillcrest Convalescent: Dewey Lawson; Walter Chambliss, father of Will Chambliss
  • The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant
  • The Laurels of Chatham County: Ann Prospero
Family and Friends of the Congregation:
  • Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
  • Linda Capers, a friend of Li-Chen Chin
  • Flora Estrella, a relative of Beth Stringfield and Cris Rivera
  • Phil Goss, a friend of the congregation
  • Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
  • Margaret Nelson, sister of Charlotte Nelson
  • Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
CONGRATULATIONS to the following FPC members who were elected Sunday, February 21 to be part of the church's leadership team. We are truly blessed by their willingness to share their talents with our congregation. 

Ruling Elders:
Class of 2022 – Tom Bacon.
Class of 2024 -- Stephen Berry, Tony Chavez, Leah Graves, Fred Moore,
Beth Stringfield, Julie Whiddon,
Emily Wilkins

Class of 2023 -- Teddie Brown, Bob Pleasants
Class of 2024 -- Jennie Belle, Jean Cary, George Gentithes,
Mark Higgins, Jancy Johnstone, Julio Manceras, Grace Mbugua

2021-2022 Nominating Committee -- Walt Barron, Brent Curtis,
Carlo Diy, Thilo Fullenkamp, Marie Sappenfield, Jean Wilson.

Thanks to everyone for your participation in our successful virtual election using Zoom! Here are their profiles once again.

Submitted by:
Dawn Carsey Shelton and Mary Ann Compton,
Nominating Committee Co-chairs
To the FPC Congregation:
On Monday afternoon (February 22), when Johanna Bernhardt arrived at Iglesia Emanuel to unload a van full of cereal for the Food Pantry, our hearts sang! It was such an amazing sight to pull out bag after bag of cereal, a total of 150 boxes, all destined to add a much appreciated food item for the families we serve. It gave us extra joy to place that cereal in the bags we were packing, knowing that they were gifts of love from our FPC congregation. Thank you so much to all who organized, donated, and delivered, making this project such a success. Let's do it again!

Most gratefully,
Margaret Rubiera
Sunday, February 28
Second Sunday in Lent
This Sunday's worship, including the music, will be led by the youth of FPC. Sophie Wilkins and Aiden James will be the speakers. Worship begins at 11:00 a.m. Gathering/music begins at 10:55 a.m. From the church's website home page, click "Worship" to join us.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Third Sunday in Lent
We have been invited to join the closing worship service of the NEXT Church National Conference on Sunday, March 7 via Zoom. The live-streamed service begins at 11:00 a.m. The Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis will be preaching and the worship leader will be Paul Vasile.

NEXT Church is a network of leaders — church members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians and professors — across the Presbyterian Church (USA) who believe the church of the future will be more relational, more diverse, more collaborative, more hopeful and more agile. Learn more about NEXT Church here.

You can access the service from the homepage of FPC's website at 11:00 a.m. next Sunday morning. Simply click on the word Worship.
Following worship on Sunday, March 7, there will be congregational gathering via Zoom. More details are forthcoming. Plan to join us !
Children's Sunday School Classes are virtual . . .
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
All adult Sunday School classes are invited to this McPherson Lectureship Zoom session with Macky Alston on Sunday, February 28 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The presentation will end shortly before 11:00 a.m. All are welcome.
SCRATCH – All adult Sunday classes are encouraged to join the Faith & Community class via Zoom to hear a presentation by Macky Alston this Sunday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. We're still on for our usual meeting time, Sundays at 8:00 p.m. via Zoom. As always, no pressure to read the assigned chapter in Home By Another Way ahead of time. Come for some good conversation and fellowship. Join via Zoom.

  • Journeys Class: The Journey's Class will join the Faith & Community Class presentation by Macky Alston this Sunday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. Topic for March 7: Journeys has chosen to start a new series on the intersection of science and religion called “Painting the Stars.” Living the Questions provides a series of videos and written support materials to help progressive Christians wrestle with basic questions of faith. The goal is to educate congregations on the unfolding challenges of our times. Please use Link #1: to access the Painting the Stars video series. This link #2 will take you to supplemental material for each of our upcoming 7 classes. If you are asked for a password, check the email you received from Paul Baldasare  Join via Zoom on March 7. Contact Andy Henry for more information.

  • Lectionary – The Lectionary Class will join the Faith & Community Class presentation by Macky Alston this Sunday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. Join us in March as we will resume our online discussion of the lectionary texts for the day at 10:00 a.m., preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. Discussion for March 7: What is the Law? Is it a set of strict rules to be followed grudgingly? Is it a mysterious word from God, which we are incapable of understanding? Or is it a precious gift to be treasured?  Join via Zoom. For phone access (audio only), call 253-215-8782.) If you need a copy of the handout of scripture readings or need the ID for the Zoom connection, contact David Smith.

  • Women’s Spirituality Group - All adult classes have been invited to the Faith & Community class to hear the presentation by Macky Alston this Sunday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. Contact Leah Graves for the links to join this class on Sunday, March 7 at 10:00 a.m. for spiritual formation, and/or following worship for a virtual lunch, and checking in with one another on Tuesdays - all three events via Zoom.

Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Sunday School classes and other activities
Remember: There is no Middle School and no High School Sunday School this Sunday, Feb 28.
Calling all parents, stepparents & caregivers of children & youth
The Christian Education Committee is beginning to imagine what faith formation for our children and youth might look like in the fall. We want to hear what you have to say about what has been working, what hasn’t, and what you sense God’s call to be for our future of faith. Please join us for a Zoom meeting on Sunday, March 7, 8:00-9:00 p.m.: want to listen to everyone, and we offer a special invitation to adults from families whose children have been much more or much less involved in Sunday School and other Christian education ministries during the pandemic. Youth, themselves, are also very much welcome.  
Congregational Life
After almost a year, we are winding down Thursday night Evening Prayers. Cris Rivera will lead our final one this week, February 24. Originally on Tuesday and Thursday nights in the pandemic, these moments of worship, praise, lament, hope, and honesty have been an important part of our life together as FPC in these difficult times. We offer our deep thanks to all of the worship leaders – too many to name here – for faithfully sharing their gifts. A special word of thanks to Steve Rimmer, who has been the recruiter-in-chief for this ministry.
Note the new time. This study is led by Mindy Douglas.
Click here for ways to access the class.
Interested in becoming a Liturgist?

Steve Rimmer and Cris Rivera are leading two introductory interest meetings for those interested in participating in worship as liturgists. We’d love to see new faces in online worship (and, one day, at the lectern) so newcomers are always welcome! It’s not just about being a good reader. It’s about helping your fellow congregants engage with prayer and lectionary text in a way that is integral to worship. Join us via Zoom on either Tuesday March 2 at 7:00 p.m. or Sunday March 7 at 2:00 p.m. Please RSVP to Cris if you plan to join us. Click Join via Zoom to join either or both meetings.
Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
Every other Wednesday: March 3, 17, and 31
Please take some time to read these instructions about preparing for our Soul Collage session on March 3. You will make a soul collage card between now and March 3, and we will process them together with certified Soul Collage facilitator Becky Hambrick. Let Laurie Williamson know if you have any questions for Becky after you read the instructions.
Join the Creation Care Committee in a discussion of biodiversity: what it is, why it’s important, and what humans have sometimes done in ignorance to disturb the balance of ecosystems and even cause extinction of species. Join us at our monthly Creation Care meeting, Thursday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. (Zoom). All are welcome. For more information about the Creation Care Committee, check out our page from the church’s website.
Mark your calendars, practice your stick figures and be ready to laugh! Deacons will host some Zoom fun and fellowship on March 19 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Join us for an online version of Pictionary (no artistic skill needed) and enjoy some fellowship together. Bring your favorite beverage, game night snack, and meet us on Zoom Friday, March 19 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

We will use this Zoom link:
Flowers for Worship

Flower donors are needed for Sundays this spring and summer. If you would like to donate flowers for worship, you can sign up using this link or go to the church's website and click "Flowers for Worship" from the home page. Click here for more detailed instructions on how to donate flowers.
Upcoming we are Events 
"we are," which stands for working to extend anti-racist education, is a non-profit organization that provides anti-racism training for children, families, and educators. We use a three-pronged approach to dismantle systemic racism in education by offering summer camps for children in rising 1st-5th grade, professional development for educators, and workshops for parents & families."
Registration for our annual "Let's Talk Racism" Conference is now live! Be sure to join us March 19-20, 2021 for our first virtual conference! If you registered for the conference last year, we still have your registration and payment on file and you will not need to take any further action. If you are unable to attend this year's conference and you are already registered, click here to transfer your registration to someone of your choosing no later than March 17, 2021. If you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to email us at

This year, we are is sponsoring four, week-long summer camps for kids in rising 1st-2nd grade and rising 3rd-5th grade. We are encouraged by the new administration’s COVID action plan. Accordingly, we aim to hold this year’s camps in person. Registration per camp is $300. Scholarships & transportation are available for families who have a financial need. Because the guidelines for this summer are yet to be determined, we are only seeking a non-refundable $25
deposit at this time (not applicable if requesting a scholarship).
Email if you have questions.
Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry needs our continued support!
2021 started off really rough on a national level (quite the understatement), but locally, we continue to work together as people of faith to provide nutritious food to over 500 families in need every single week at Iglesia Emanuel. Come join us as we seek to share God’s love in this most tangible way! New volunteers are always welcome.
1.   Bag rice or beans from home. For instructions and to sign up, simply click this link. Put on music, sing, and have fun while you fill those bags!
2.   To help in person at Iglesia Emanuel, grab your trusty mask, and come join others in a safe environment to help organize donated food, fill bags and boxes in preparation for the Wednesday food pantry. You will work hard but leave after your 2-hour shift knowing you have made a big difference in the lives of many families. For more information, and to sign up, click here: Iglesia Emanuel COVID-19 Food Bank Signup Genius 
3.   Your financial support is always welcome, and will help us purchase more food. Online:, or mail your check to Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel, 2504 N Roxboro, Durham 27704.

Thank you so much!
Margaret and Miguel 
Items Needed for Day School
Through heroic efforts by the faculty and staff, the school has not experienced any cases of Covid 19, has maintained its 5 Star status, and has kept all faculty and staff on board. At her presentation to the Service and Mission Committee earlier this month, Executive Director Michele Miller-Cox noted that the school is doing well and providing a vital service to the community, but it has a need for supplies that are beyond its current capacity to purchase.

Rather than asking for donations of supplies, the Day School has set up an Amazon site that lists the supplies needed. Those wishing to contribute can go to the site, purchase items of their choosing, and the supplies will be sent directly to the school. Please request a Monday or Friday delivery. The link for the site is listed below. Thanks.

The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, March 9. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, March 7.